DC substitute teachers cite low wages, lack of benefits for ‘mass exodus’ – NBC4 Washington

A new analysis shows that DC Public Schools are facing a severe shortage of substitute teachers as the new school year approaches, potentially impacting classrooms this fall.

The number of replacements on DCPS’ payroll decreased by nearly 50% from the start of the pandemic to the start of 2022.

Many substitutes have skills that translate to other jobs in other fields, according to Myrtle Washington, the president of Washington Substitute Teachers United. That, coupled with COVID concerns, led to what she calls a “mass exodus.”

“They pay more money. So… a number of substitute teachers have decided to leave, and not only that, it’s also for security reasons,” Washington said. “We want to be treated like professionals and not just subs.”

According to a recent analysis by local research group DC Policy Center, the number of replacements on DCPS’ payroll fell from 987 in early 2020 to 501 in the first quarter of 2022.

It’s not known exactly how many replacements will be coming next school year, as DC’s public payroll database has yet to be updated with the most recent quarterly data.

News4 has made several attempts to contact DCPS to inquire about the replacement shortage and what is being done to address it, but have heard nothing back.

‘We are needed. We knew that beforehand, but we knew even more after we went through the pandemic,” Washington said.

Having fewer substitute teachers has a ripple effect in the classroom. Full-time teachers are spread more thinly and administrators sometimes have to deviate from their usual role to fill the gaps.

“Children have to go to another class. They split the class. Some go to one class. Some go to a different class,” Washington said.

Washington said that if schools want to attract quality substitute teachers, they need to make them feel like a valued part of schools. She said she continues to teach as a substitute because she has a passion for helping students.

“I know I’m making an impact, and I’m looking forward to the impact I get from the students because I get a lot of love,” she said.

Leave a Comment